Paul Kuck is the founder of Fitness Tutor (www.fitness-tutor.com) and owner of a personal training studio in Singapore that focuses on helping busy professionals transform their bodies and health. He has more than 10 years of experience working as a personal trainer, manager, speaker and writer. Kuck has a master’s degree in exercise and nutrition science, and is an ACE-certified clinical exercise specialist. He can be contacted at paul@fitness-tutor.com.

Are you getting most of your business from your current and past clients, especially if you have been doing personal training for at least two years? If you are not, then this article is for you.

Client retention should be the bedrock of your personal training services. Although acquiring new clients is equally important and should be an ongoing process, when you are already working with a fairly large pool of clients, it should take only about 30 percent of your resources.

Retaining clients and generating repeat business creates stability and predictability in your overall income. As you may already know, retaining clients is much easier and less expensive than acquiring new ones. Personal trainers who earn at least six figures a year know this fact very well.

So how do you retain your clients and get them to sign up with you on a long-term basis? Here are seven simple strategies:

  1. Show them the results. Patients see doctors to get well, and financial clients hire bankers to help manage and grow their wealth. Although these service professionals may not succeed 100 percent of the time, they often are very successful. For personal training, clients come to you to improve their fitness and health. So if you are not fulfilling this fundamental rule by producing positive objective outcomes, why are you calling yourself a personal trainer? It is not unusual to see trainers go through the motions with their clients, and after many months of hard work, the client sees no results. If you are like that, solicit help, learn from other established trainers or read books to help you refocus on your core mission. When clients are unhappy, word gets around fast. Don’t be known as the trainer who doesn’t deliver.
  2. Pay personal attention to every client. You should strengthen your relationship with your clients by knowing them on a personal level—not just as a “hi” and “bye” acquaintance. An excellent way to create a good relationship is by making small talk as you are training them. Find some common ground between yourself and the client, and use that as the icebreaker. Know about their hobbies, favorite songs, professions, loved ones, etc., and you can establish good relationships with them on an emotional level.
  3. Become invaluable. To achieve this, you must bring more to the relationship than simply just your service (which is a commodity in your clients’ minds). You must create a situation where your clients can’t live without your ideas, your motivation, your presence and your knowledge. Learn more about your clients’ strengths and weaknesses. Figure out how to help them improve those. Be an idea generator. Let them know that you are always equipped with the latest research.
  4. Reward loyal clients. Don’t you hate companies who give freebies, extra perks and discounts to new sign-ups and completely forget about you, the loyal customer? Wouldn’t your clients think the same way if you commit the same mistake? This is a no-brainer. Treat your clients like the No. 1 prospects they are, and give them the deals they can’t resist. Your clients will feel valued by your thoughtfulness and will continue doing business with you.
  5. Don’t forget your past clients. Keeping in touch with your past and current clients is a great way to let them know you still care about them. Here are a few great ways to keep in contact with your clients:
  • Newsletters
  • Thank-you cards
  • Friendly calls
  • Gifts (tickets to an event, magazine subscription, gift certificates, etc.)
  • Surprise visits

(Note: Please do not attach your business card or any special offer with your gift. It doesn’t look professional and may work against your objective.)

  1. Be humble. Clients want to work with trainers who are friendly and accessible. Clients don’t see the need to put up with large egos, no matter how good they are at training. Treat your clients with respect, and they will tell all their friends that they have a super trainer who is also friendly.
  2. Don’t run from dissatisfied clients. If you think a client isn’t happy with you or your services, be up front about it and discuss it with them to try to find a solution. It could be a case of misunderstanding or negligence. Whatever it is, you must not let dissatisfied clients remain dissatisfied. Such ignorance is bad for your business.
Follow these simple strategies to keep your clients happy and loyal for years to come.